Every month, Sherpa Co-founder Alex Fisher answers your questions about senior housing sales based on her experiences as a successful leasing counselor, sales director, and community owner. Read more about Ask Alex in Alex’s Open Letter To Senior Housing Professionals.
To submit a question, email AskAlex@sherpacrm.com .
Dear Ask Alex,
I love my job, but sometimes I feel extreme pressure when it comes to move-in numbers. Thinking about those empty apartments makes me nervous at month’s end. Do you have any advice on how to stay focused? – Under pressure in Arizona
Thank you so much for this question and for your honesty. This pressure is constant and unrelenting!
My personal, and professional belief is that pressure and stress come from trying to control people or circumstances that we simply can’t. Here’s a great quote from Anthony Moore’s excellent article in which he addresses this same dichotomy:
“Pressure isn’t real — it’s just the stress you put on yourself in your head. Pressure is the result of limitations we put on ourselves to produce outcomes we don’t control. When we focus on the outcome, we begin to expect things out of our control, which sets us up for failure.”
What you can’t control in our world of senior living sales:
When we focus on things we can’t control, these emotions signal that we need to take action urgently, they’re meant to help us escape and survive. However, this natural “flight or fight” does not produce extraordinary outcomes. Here are my “top 4:”
- We can’t control a prospects’ resistance to buying/change: Attempting to convince simply does not work. However, we often try to change this resistance by throwing every feature and benefit of our community in the hope that something sticks. We invite to events. We mail stuff. It only marginally works, and usually with the most urgent prospects. The rest of our lead base feels pressured and they “go quiet.”
- We can’t control the frequency and quantity of incoming leads: well, perhaps we have a say in this, but we have to react to every new lead that comes in, sometimes to the detriment of our in-depth work with an existing prospect. We respond by abandoning the in-depth work with fewer people by losing focus and casting a wider net. We engage with every new lead in a shallow way. Our follow up with existing leads also becomes shallow.
- We can’t control move-outs: another notice means we have more apartments to fill. We respond by becoming demoralized, the mountain of work we have to do just got bigger.
- We can’t control the competition: another shiny new community is opening 3 miles from yours. Yikes.
Reacting to this pressure yields mediocre outcomes
Here is an example:
It’s the end of the month, you’re about to visit a prospect named Mrs. Jones. She’s been incredibly resistant to moving in, asks a lot of questions and has a complicated family dynamic. You also have not creatively followed up with the daughter that came in yesterday. You have not done a planning session for the tour tomorrow. Just then, your executive director walks into the office waving around yet another move-out notice. You have a call with your regional this afternoon about your results. You feel the pressure building inside of you. The voice in your head asks: What if I don’t make another sale this month? What if I spend all this time with Mrs. Jones and she doesn’t close? What if I can’t get my prospects to move in? What if I lose my job?
In this whirlwind of worry, you start making not-so-good decisions. You cancel the visit with Mrs. Jones, put off the creative follow up and the planning for the tour. You begin scanning the lead base for prospects who may be “move in ready.” In this mental state, your calls become slightly more impersonal and calculated, an attempt to scour your leads for urgency and getting them to come in. Your efforts bear little fruit, and you end up receiving a lot of rejection. Now you are even more discouraged, and, you’ve potentially alienated much of your lead base.
You don’t feel good. Sound familiar?
What you can control: yourself
The only things you can really control are your attitude, your behavior, and your mindset. You override the stressful feelings by becoming razor-focused on your process.
- You focus on the prospect in front of you before moving to the next one. This prospect, this strategy, this creative follow-up. You look deeper, you plan, you ask questions.
- You become clear about the prospects motivators, fears and preferences.
- You plan for advances, however small, because you know that generating advances increase the likelihood of a close.
I find this to be one of the hardest things to do in sales. It is easier to react. But you can do it. Decide that you won’t let the pressure modify your process or guide your behavior.
You will feel open, focused and confident in your abilities. That is what extraordinary sales professionals do.
I’d also like to share an excerpt from the “Sales Hero Manifesto.” It’s a piece I created after being inspired by another hero like yourself, who had a similar question. There’s a section that I feel fits this question perfectly:
I AM A PROSPECT-CENTERED SALES® PERSON…I believe in the life enhancing opportunities that our product provides…I recognize prospects as persons with all the rich history, complexities, quirks, interests, desires, hopes, and fears of any person. I honor that complexity…I will “give up the result” and instead focus on my process and behavior. I know that I can’t control a prospect’s decision, nor can I convince them. Focusing on the pressure to fill units will cause stress and fear for me, and place undue pressure on the prospect…
I AM A SALES HERO. -Sales Hero Manifesto
If you’d like to see the full Sales Hero Manifesto so you and your team can keep it handy, contact me and I will send it to you.